Ineos Grenadiers have announced that Tom Pidcock will race in select mountain bike races this season in addition to his duties on the road. The young Briton will race three rounds of the mountain bike World Cup while aiming to be selected by team Great Britain to race the Olympic Games mountain bike race in Tokyo.
Pidcock has achieved multi-discipline success, most recently winning the U23 XCO mountain bike World Championship and e-MTB world title. When it was announced he would be joining the Tour de France winning Ineos Grenadiers team, it was unknown if he would continue to race on the dirt or if he would stick to the road.
Now, it seems that Pidcock still has mountain bike ambitions. This is the first time that the Ineos Grenadiers have supported a mountain biker.
Pidcock will start his mountain bike season on 1 May at the Swiss Bike Cup before heading to the first XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on 9 May, where he'll compete in the elite field. He's also planning to race at World Cups in the Czech Republic and Austria before the Olympic Games on 27 July.
Despite being a prolific U23 racer, Pidcock will start at the back of the pack in Germany, since positions on the World Cup mountain bike start grid are based on UCI points, and the U23 points don't count for the elite field.
“The gridding is so key in this discipline," Pidcock's coach Kurt Bogaerts said in a press release. "At the first World Cup he’ll start really far behind – around place 92 on the grid. If he does well in Albstadt, if he can achieve a top-16 result, that would allow him into the short track qualifying race for the next World Cup round at Novo Meste. That race will help him set his grid position, and if he can get to that point the situation is essentially in his own hands. It’s all about moving up that grid – so the first World Cup of the year will be a key race to start off and get a good result.”
Pidcock will also have to earn a selection from team Great Britain in order to race at the Tokyo Olympics, which will depend on World Cup results.
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Pidcock was recently in Catalunya, Spain to test mountain bike equipment for the upcoming races. In a video released by the team, it appears that he is riding an unmarked BMC Fourstroke bike, SR Suntour suspension, Duke wheels and components from Shimano and PRO.
Pidcock has started his road season with early success at Strade Bianche, a race featuring gravel roads in Italy, where he placed fifth behind teammate and 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal, who placed third.
The British team, who have been criticized for a predictable and robotic racing style, have said that they will change their racing style to be more exciting this year. Riders like Pidcock could be key to this strategy.
However, the Ineos Grenadiers and team Great Britain have been under fire this week for their connections to former team doctor Richard Freeman, who was found guilty of ordering a banned substance, testosterone, "knowing or believing" it was for a rider in 2011. It will remain to be seen if suspicions of wrongdoing follow Ineos, and therefore Pidcock, into the mountain bike arena.